Leaving my PC switched on all of the time

  javaBalls 23:52 20 Sep 2005

I have a second PC that I use for backups and storing shared files for the other PCs in my home network. This PC is located in the loft. (I control it using remote desktop - win xp).

However I am concerned that it may go on fire and I'll come home to my house burnt down. What precautions should I take? Can you buy special fire resistant cases or a box to place my PC in? Or is there always a risk of fire?

I'm also concerned about the electricity bill. Does it consume much electricity? (it does not have monitor)

Thirdly I'm a little concerned that I may be shortening the life of the PC by leaving it on all on the time.

Ideally it would be on all of the time. I need some comments for forum users to help decided what I should do.

Thanks in Advance

  Arnie 00:13 21 Sep 2005

use a fire-resistant box of any kind it would have to be sealed to be fully flame resistant.
This would mean that the computer would not be able to release the watts being dissipated. Severe overheating would then see the demise of the computer.

If you wish to run your computer in the loft, I would try to find a heat sensitive device which would trip the mains from the computer should any excessive temperatures be detected.

Unless you have the necessary skills to devise such a system, you would have to seek professional advice.

I would also make sure there are no flammable materials around the system.

Have you a nearby shed you could house the computer? - Probably a lot safer.

  Forum Editor 00:30 21 Sep 2005

to run non-stop for very long periods, and I know of quite a few network servers which run almost continuously - apart from down-time for maintenance/upgrades.

Having said that, an air-conditioned server room is a little different to your loft, and in general terms I would not advise anyine to leave a home PC running continuously. Power consumption, whilst low, is an item in terms of cost, and there's the environmental consideration. We're all using far too much fossil-fuel energy, and anything we can do to save fuel consumption will help us now, and in the future. Many big companies are operating 'Switch it Off' policies with regard to computer equipment.

There are no advantages to running a PC non-stop if you're not actually using it, and if it's connected to the Internet there some positive disadvantages. I used to leave my office network running at night, but no longer. Now, everything is turned off at the end of each working day.

In your case the fire risk is very small. Provided you ensure that the machine has adequate ventilation, is placed securely, and is protected from dust accumulations, you should be fine. Do not place the machine inside an enclosure of any kind - you want the maximum amount of air circulating around the case.

There's a lot of debate about life expectancy and leaving computers on. Some people say that constant switching on and off can shorten the life of components, but the reduction isn't that great, and may be no more that when you leave the computer running. Most computer components have a pretty long life, and are obsolete long before they wear out. Hard drive spindle bearings can certainly wear, but again the rate at which this happens is very slow.

To sum up - unless you really need this machine to run constantly you should turn it off when it's not in use. Then you won't have to worry about it bursting into flames while you sleep, and you'll be doing yourselfand the planet) a favour

  Arnie 12:25 24 Sep 2005

The FE gave up his valuable time answering your posting in great detail.
Please respond if you can.

  Jackcoms 12:30 24 Sep 2005
  PC Bilbo 13:01 24 Sep 2005

I can't add much to what Forum Ed says but having spent 30 years in the active and passive components industry I can vouch that the mean time before failure rates (MTBF) is vastly better than even 10 years ago.

However, your insurance company might have other ideas. A salutory lesson was a colleague from work leaving his computer on whilst out all day and coming home to a charred mess which fortunately scorched his floorboards but didn't actually catch fire.The old reasons for not powering

Also,unless you have a GOOD power supply this is likely to be the weak link as the cheaper grade capacitors in budget switched mode supplies coupled with lower grade heatsinks & fans will definitely be suspect. If you pay between £60 - £100 for a decent quality supply from a major player you should get a 3 year warranty.

  VCR97 19:34 24 Sep 2005

A loft is not the best place for a PC. Assuming that there is no insulation behind the tiles, ie, the loft has not been "converted", it will achieve some extremely high temperatures well outside the operating spec of the PC.

  bruno 20:00 24 Sep 2005

I have spent 50 years servicing and repairing electrical equipment that "never goes wrong",and while agreeing that the risk is very small,it is still there,ask any fireman.Transformers are the favourite cause of problems.I had one go last week while watching a VCR.

  Kenneth-266656 20:41 24 Sep 2005

Couldn't agree more with previous forum replies. Spent all my working life in the electrical/electronic world (general not computers) I don't trust components one bit.
Capacitors and trans. as stated are liable to go at any time. Far more likely to pack up in the high temperature of a loft environment than through starting once every 24 hours. Switch off when not in use that's my advice.

  The Spires 21:14 24 Sep 2005

My house often has a dishwasher, washer, dryer, a fridge-freezer, and a freezer, either running at night or when the house is empty. In addition the likes of clock radios, various charges & power supplies, burglar alarm, security lighting inside & outside, heating boiler, timers, clocks on oven & microwave overns etc as do many of us. Whether a pc is on or not is irrelevant, this isn't the 1920's.

  bruno 19:13 25 Sep 2005

I wasn't working in the 1920s.What you do is up to you.The poster was asking for advice,I think,not"it can't happen to me",you can get that in any pub.

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